Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Haitian Revolution (The Revolt That Birthed a Nation - Part 2)

The Haitian Revolution 
(The Revolt That Birthed a Nation - Part 2: Vincent Oge and John Boukman)
                               by K. Omodele @TheAbeng

How the French Revolution Affected the Haitian Revolution

   After the French Revolution toppled the French Monarchy (King Louis XVI) in 1789*, the French National Assembly issued the Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizens. News of these events were carried from France, off ships and spread amongst the people of the colony of Saint Domingue, stirring hope among the oppressed and disdain among the upper classes. Then in 1791, this new, revolutionary government decreed that free, property-owning mulattos (gens de couleur) in Saint Domingue were to possess the same rights as plantation owners. Saint Domingue's Colonial Assembly (which was comprised of plantation owners of French descent) refused to accept this decree and bucked against the orders from the new French republic.

Vincent Oge and the uprising of Gens de Couleur

   The colonial plantation owners sought representation in the French National Assembly, but wanted no representation for mulatto freemen. The colony's own assembly excluded mulattos from representation, which poured gasoline on already-fuming racial tensions. In February 1791, the gens de couleur, led by Vincent Oge, rushed to arms and rebelled against the white colonials. But their revolt was quickly squashed, and Vincent Oge escaped to Santo Domingo (the Spanish side of the island). He was subsequently caught and extradited to Saint Domingue, where he was sentenced to death by the gallows. Right before he was hung, he was stretched and quartered**; then, after being hung to his death, his head was chopped off.
   But by now, the flames of insurrection had ignited. In August of that year, the slaves jumped in the fight and the revolt roared towards a full-blaze revolution for emancipation, equality and national independence.

John "Dutty" Boukman (Bookman) - The Obeah man (Vodou priest)

   John Boukman (Bookman in English) was a Jamaica-born, runaway slave. Nicknamed Dutty Boukman, he was a vodou priest (obeah man)  and as a fugitive, he wandered the northern Saint Domingue  countryside, holding clandestine meetings in secluded areas around plantations. His gatherings were intense with vodou/obeah worship and charged with talk of rebellion. Dutty Boukman preached with insight and persuasion; his mystique was powered by spiritual, esoteric rituals passed down from ancestors.
   In Saint Domingue, many slaves were either African born, or one or two generations removed from the continent. Vodou priests were respected, revered as leaders, spiritual griots linking slaves to their African origin. John "Dutty" Boukman's oratory skills captivated his audiences; and at Bwa Kayiman (Bois Caiman) on August 20-22, he incited the slaves to revolt - from rebellion to revolution to freedom.

The Haitian Revolution (The Revolt That Birthed a nation - Part 3)



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